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During 2013 the Australian Bureau of Statistics is reviewing the ABS Indigenous Standard. This project is part of the normal rolling examination of all ABS standards and commenced in February 2013. It is expected that the project team will make recommendations by the end of December 2013.

The Indigenous Standard provides the basis for the ABS to collect statistics about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It is also used by other organisations that collect this information.

All aspects of the Standard will be examined including:

  • Concepts - consisting of the name of the variable and a nominal and an operational definition of the variable
  • Classification and coding information - providing criteria for classifying responses as well as coding procedures
  • Collection methods - including the Standard Indigenous Question used by the ABS
  • Measurement issues - introducing data quality matters and terminology guidelines

A key part of the Standard is the ABS Standard Indigenous Question. This was introduced in 1996 and is supported by the Council of Australia Governments in schedule F of the National Indigenous Reform Agreement which states that “all jurisdictions will adopt the standard ABS Indigenous question and recording categories on data collection forms and information systems for key data sets”.

The ABS website provides the full text of the Indigenous Standard.

Provide your views

The review is seeking the views of organisations, groups or persons who would like to provide input. These questions may help guide your submission, though you need not be restricted to these questions:

1. Is the Standard Indigenous Question 'fit for purpose' as the means by which respondents identify as Indigenous or non-Indigenous in a range of ABS and non-ABS data collections? If not, what amendments should be made to it in your view?

2. Is there value in adding one or more supplementary questions to the Standard Question? If so, what additional information could be sought, and why? If supplementary questions were added should they be part of the standard question module or should they be included in a supplementary question module?

3. Do you have views on the classification criteria and coding procedures provided in the Standard? Should the Standard include more information about underlying concepts and data quality matters? Do the terminology guidelines provide appropriate advice?

4. Are there gaps in the current Standard? What other information could be included?

5. Is the current Standard presented in a usable form? That is, does it provide enough information and guidance to enable its readers to understand why they should use the Standard? And does it provide this information in a way that both expert and non-expert readers would understand?

Please send your submission regarding the Indigenous Standard by email to Your submission should be sent before close of business 30 September 2013.

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